Digital Disrupts Diagnostics: Leadership Requires Change Management

In my last column, I introduced a few trends that are disrupting the healthcare industry. The future of the business—no matter which healthcare industry you are in—is digital. We are in the beginning stages of disruption that will continue to occur over the next 10 years.

In order to address the challenges and opportunities in the healthcare industry, leadership must be prepared and able to operationalize the requirements for change to avoid being disrupted. For many organizations, preparedness begins at the top. This means that leadership across all levels must have clarity in purpose and focus; there also must be alignment in strategy and goals.

Unfortunately, many healthcare organizations are slow to change. Internal politics make it difficult to reach consensus across all levels of leadership—even when change is urgent. This is why many companies slowly and often unknowingly lose momentum as they fail to change fast enough—allowing the marketplace and competitors to pass them by. The result is: Valuable time is misspent; resources are applied and money invested without the required outcomes to stay competitive; and keeping clients satisfied and employees engaged is more difficult.

Revolutions always start before you can see them and the shift to venture-backed disrupters and the loss of momentum of large healthcare companies are occurring today. Per the digital health incubator Rock Health, venture funding in digital health companies in 2014 surpassed $4 billion, nearly equivalent to the previous three years combined. I expect that investment growth trend to continue into 2015.

History shows that most companies are unable to mount the necessary change required to adapt. Organizational complexity, culture, operational silos and previous industry success all make major adaptations challenging because a strategic response requires a consensus view that is difficult to achieve quickly. For most companies, this only happens when facing a crisis—typically, too late.

Leadership today involves leading, managing and constantly adapting to change. Try these three steps to get on a path to change and engage your organization.

1. Choose an approach to change models that will work best within your organization. A few different models to evaluate include:

  • Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model
  • Lewin’s Change Management Model
  • McKinsey 7-S Model

2. Establish a sense of urgency and the factors influencing the need for urgency. For example:

  • Changing market conditions
  • Need to establish new (or stretch) business results

3. Form a leadership team and identify team participants:

  • Look for your “Intrapreneurs”
  • Look for cross-functional leaders
  • Look for courageous, invested individuals

Create a vision for the change you want to create and deliver. Be able to explain how this change benefits the organization and how it will impact your customers. Be ready to articulate how this new mission will create positive change for the business.

Charting a new course, developing a new plan or devising a new strategy without change management is just a substitution—not a company evolution. Change management is the bedrock for leaders to stand on to drive change in organizations. It may not be natural to think of change management, but if you are you a leader in your organization, then you are already in change management.

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